One of the Bourke district's historic landmark properties has hit the market as part of a family estate wind-up, presenting a rare opening to the rich Darling River floodplain.
On offer is Mooculta West, the 10,758 hectare (26,585ac) grazing and irrigation property that any motorist who is heading for Bourke along the Mitchell Highway passes through as they approach the town.
Owned by the Gordon family since the mid-1990s, Mooculta West is being offered for sale by expressions of interest through Schute Bell Property and Hartin Schute Bell of Narromine, with offers closing on August 15.
Mooculta West was created in a 1953 two-way split of Mooculta Station, originally a 40,468ha (100,000ac) run taken up in 1865 by Russell Barton, later the first Member for Bourke in the state parliament.
In 1912 the property became part of the Killen family's network of pastoral holdings, ultimately as part of Elsinora Ltd.
It was in this name it was sold in 1936 to Ryan brothers, of Merriman, Brewarrina.
A 12,140ha (30,000ac) portion was sold off in 1944, and in 1953 the balance was put to auction in two parts.
The larger homestead portion was bought by Charlie Turnbull, whose family still holds Mooculta today.
The remaining West Mooculta section of about 11,735ha (29,000ac) was bought by the Tancred meat processing family as a grazing and irrigation adjunct to their adjoining meatworks.
When the meatworks closed in 1996, the bulk of West Mooculta was bought by Merv and Jill Gordon (both now deceased), whose family it is that are now selling to wind up the estate.
The Gordons came to Bourke in 1973 to develop irrigation on Latoka, a farm then owned by Peter Perry of Narrabri adjoining West Mooculta, and Merv had long admired the rich floodplain block next door.
When the opportunity arose to buy the property in 1996, he was quick to take it up and establish a cattle breeding enterprise underpinned by flood-irrigated fodder cropping.
This is the package now for sale at West Mooculta, where despite two years of drought the Gordons have been able to sustain a 700-plus head Santa/Hereford cattle operation without buying feed.
Situated 10 kilometres south-east of Bourke on the Mitchell Highway and straddling the Kamilaroi Highway (to Brewarrina), West Mooculta also has frontages to the Darling and Dry Bogan rivers.
The property comprises level to slightly undulating country of self-mulching grey alluvial soils, lightly timbered by coolabah and supporting a rich mix of native grasses, herbage and edible bush.
About 300ha of country has been developed for irrigation in 10 fields on raised beds or bays, with water pumped and channelled from the Darling above the Bourke weir.
Included in the sale are the property's water entitlements of 352 megalitres plus 12,000ML of carryover.
Approval has been granted for an expanded irrigation operation.
Stock water is piped from the Darling to tanks and troughs, augmented by earth dams across the property's 13 paddocks.
Managed as an all-cattle operation since 1996, and currently running 380 cows and followers, West Mooculta relies on winter cropping (340ha now under cereals) for supplementary fodder.
Structural improvements include two spacious, air-conditioned homesteads, machinery and hay sheds, silos and two sets of steel cattle yards.